- iOS 16 automatically files orders placed with Apple Pay in the Wallet app so they can be tracked.
- Retailers will need to opt-in to support the feature, with Shopify being among those already confirmed.
- iOS 16 is expected to be released in September.
When iOS 16 releases next month, it will add a new feature that will make it easier than ever to track online orders. And if it works as intended, it has the potential to be pretty awesome.
The new order tracking feature, first announced by Apple at its WWDC22 event in June, automatically adds supported Apple Pay orders to the Wallet app and makes them instantly trackable. It’s the first time Apple has built such functionality into its software, and it could mean many people won’t need to use third-party apps from the App Store if retailer adoption is strong enough.
“Order tracking in the Wallet app is one of the most underrated features of iOS 16,” MacRumors Senior news reporter Joe Rossignol told Lifewire via direct message. “But it will be limited to purchases made with Apple Pay and it may be a long time before the feature is widely supported.”
A stealth hit in the works
Apple announced many new features and improvements as part of the iOS 16 unveiling on June 6, and most received significantly more attention than order tracking. But in terms of quality of life improvement, it could possibly be one of the biggest.
Order tracking in the Wallet app is one of iOS 16’s most underrated features
This is most likely the case when you order online and use Apple Pay to check out. The information stored includes the order number, the tracking number and the items ordered. You can also see when the order was delivered. And because this is Apple, all your orders are synced through iCloud, so they’re safe and sound should you need to access them in the future.
In early August, the Shopify, Narvar, and Route platforms were all confirmed for Apple’s new order tracking feature, but we can expect that list to grow significantly. “Brands with existing partnerships with Apple, such as Nike, Hermès, and Walgreens, could be early adopters of the feature,” notes Rossignol.
Dealer support is key
However, order tracking in iOS 16 will only come in handy if enough merchants support it. Apple journalist Benjamin Mayo says he hopes “many traders will adopt the feature,” but he doesn’t hold his breath that it will happen.
If anyone can pull it off, it’s Apple. With hundreds of millions of compatible iPhone users around the world placing all their orders using Apple Pay, retailers are more likely to sign up for the new order tracking feature than if it were a minor endeavor. Customers could start demanding integration with iOS 16, leaving retailers out in the cold who don’t sign up.
The alternatives are weaker than ever
The App Store is full of third-party apps that already allow people to enter their courier tracking numbers and see where their packages are, but they’re getting weaker by the day. Case in point: The Delivery app, a staple of the App Store, announced earlier this year that support for couriers was waning.
“It’s likely that over time, more services in Deliveries will stop showing tracking information directly in the app,” developer Mike Piontek said in April 2022. “You won’t see the delivery date, map route, or any details, and You will not receive notifications of status changes. You must use the “View Online” button to view your tracking information on the carrier’s website.”
While Apple’s implementation also offers similar links to courier websites, third-party apps no longer have the advantage they might otherwise have boasted. In the end, there’s always a net gain in allowing users to track their orders, but competition helps spur innovation. The App Store’s apps have brought new iOS features and it’s disappointing to learn that the order tracking apps are struggling.
Placing orders with Apple Pay with supported providers means most will reap the benefits Apple can offer through the Wallet app. For everyone else, it’s the courier’s website or nothing. At least for now.
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